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Scots urged not to ‘sleepwalk’ into second independence referendum

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw made a speech to activists in Edinburgh on Friday.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw urged Scots not to give the SNP the ‘bargaining power’ to call for a second independence referendum (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw urged Scots not to give the SNP the ‘bargaining power’ to call for a second independence referendum (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

Scots are being urged not to “sleepwalk into disaster” in next week’s General Election by backing either Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw warned Mr Corbyn could “cave in immediately” to the First Minister’s demands for a second vote on independence if SNP MPs help him into Downing Street in the event of a hung Parliament.

Mr Carlaw called on Scots to act to deny the SNP that “bargaining power”.

We must not sleepwalk into disaster over this coming week Jackson Carlaw

Addressing activists in Edinburgh with just six days to go until polling, Mr Carlaw said “stranger things” have happened in elections than Mr Corbyn becoming prime minister.

While he claimed it was “extremely unlikely” the Labour leader could win an overall majority next week, Mr Carlaw said: “That doesn’t mean we are safe.

“All Corbyn needs to do next week is to deprive the Conservatives of an overall majority.

“If he does that, he has calculated that he can then get the support from elsewhere in the Commons in order to push a Corbyn-Led Labour Government into Number 10.

“This is from where the risk really comes. Because we know where he’ll go casting his keekers first – here, in Scotland, to Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.”

The Scottish Conservative leader sent a message to voters: “We must not sleepwalk into disaster over this coming week.

“We must act instead to stop indyref2, stop Scotland going back to more division, tell her again, no, and let our country move on.”

On Labour, he said it was clear Mr Corbyn’s party had “given up on the union”.

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Jackson Carlaw told attendees Jeremy Corbyn will be prepared to offer the SNP a second independence referendum (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Carlaw said: “It’s beyond any shred of doubt that Corbyn’s Labour is now prepared to offer what the SNP most want – a second referendum on independence – in order to get that majority over the line.”

While he said Labour may not win any seats in Scotland at all on Thursday, he claimed Mr Corbyn and senior Labour figures south of the border had “decided to reach an accommodation – to give the SNP what they want, in return for the keys to Number 10”.

Ms Sturgeon has already vowed to send a letter demanding the formal power to hold a second Scottish independence referendum to the next prime minister before Christmas – whoever that might be.

On that, Mr Carlaw said: “I think it is beyond naive to imagine that when presented with that letter from Nicola Sturgeon for an immediate second referendum, Mr Corbyn won’t cave in immediately.”

The impact of having another vote on Scotland’s future in 2020, as well as possibly a second Brexit referendum, would be “brutal” and “corrosive”, the Scottish Tory leader warned.

He said it would move the focus away from tackling problems in Scotland’s NHS and schools, saying SNP ministers would be campaigning for that “instead of focusing on opening the Sick Kids hospital here in Edinburgh or dealing with the infection scandal at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow or turning around the slump in maths and science performance in our schools or tackling the crisis of governance in our police service”.

Mr Carlaw said: “It’s down to us to weaken the SNP’s hand – deprive them of their bargaining power – and lock that referendum away for the generation promised.”

Appealing to supporters of Labour and the Lib Dems to back his party, he said: “We need people of all political persuasions to lend us their vote and further reduce the number of SNP MPs.

“Don’t let’s sleepwalk through the week ahead. Let’s wake up to the real and present danger that a second referendum brings.

“And let’s come together to stop it.”

PA

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